With Christmas and summer holidays in full swing, many of us slide into a negative mindset, mostly triggered by what we see on social media.

Taking your usual rounds on Facebook or Instagram, you see people posting photos of how fabulous their lives are right now when you have just broken up with your partner. You see friends surrounded by a supportive loving family in photos that look like they’ve been taken from the pages of Vogue, while your family resembles something more dysfunctional, or worse, you’ll be spending the holidays alone.

Then you’ll find yourself wondering, why is my life not like theirs? Was there even anything special I’ve done in the past 12 months? All of a sudden, you are envious of their lives, their relationships, their status, their careers. You start to believe your job is boring and that you should be earning more, or that your partner sucks, or that your whole life is in shambles.

I find it incredible how social media can somehow twist our views about our own life and make it look like it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s easy to fall into this trap; social media can trigger the unpleasant feeling of self-pity or self-disdain. But the reality is, social media is what it is because people only want to show the best versions of themselves on it. Because consciously, this is what they want you to see—how beautiful their lives are.

I do, however, think it’s okay to want to post things that you are happy about or proud of. After all, your social media account is your own personal space. But as the spectator, you have to consciously remind yourself not to compare their lives with yours. Yes, it can be hard sometimes; social media images can trigger strong emotional responses that could devalue your confidence level. But comparing your true reality with other people’s perfectly captured and filtered Instagram photo will only make you feel dissatisfied and unhappy with your own. Remember, these are two realities, and comparing these two is downright unrealistic.

When you are suddenly gripped by these intense negative emotions while looking at a photo of a friend lounging around in Bali, doing these things might be helpful.


  • Focus on yourself.

Let go of their lives and focus on your own. Your friend may have a body that you wish you had, but it’s what she has. What makes you feel good and confident? You make super delicious cupcakes! You are a talented dancer! Focus on these things instead.


  • Limit exposure to social media.

If it’s making you feel bad or stressed, or if it’s taking a dangerous blow to your self-esteem, get a social media detox. Stick to a 10-minute-a-day social media rule or unfollow the profiles of people who trigger negative thoughts.


  • Have a clear vision of the goals you want to achieve.

Your friend’s cousin may be a successful banking whiz and is already making a fortune. But no matter how tempting his success story is, his career has nothing to do with your vision. Remind yourself that you have a path of your own and work on the next thing you want to achieve.


  • Get inspired, not envious.

We have certain people we look up to and emulate. But sometimes, we adore them so much we forget that theirs is the “Chapter 10” and yours is just about beginning. We’re forcing ourselves to be like them. Our heroes have had a long and difficult journey to get to where they are now. Get inspired by their lives but focus on the steps you’re taking to get to the place you want to be in.


  • Understand what’s causing these unhealthy comparisons.

If you are still feeling down after all your efforts, perhaps it could help to ask yourself: Why are you feeling bad about yourself? What’s being triggered inside you? Where are these insecurities coming from? These comparisons could help you pinpoint an area in your life that may need improvement. It could be that you are not eating well. Or you are too overcome by work to spend time on things you want to do. Or you’ve been suffering from relationship problems. Whatever it is, take this as an opportunity to stop and evaluate yourself. Work on things that could give you a higher sense of self-value, spend some time alone, exercise, or just focus on the things that matter.


I would love to hear about you. Have you been weighed down by the things you see on social media? If you need help finding happiness in your own life instead of comparing yourself to others, don’t hesitate to reach out.


Social anxiety

Fiona Stevenson counselling psychotherapist Gold Coast



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